State policy and regulatory framework in the area
The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan recognizes the right to intellectual property ("IP") and ensures the protection of IP rights of all persons. In order to clarify the Constitutional norm and establish the legal basis of the protection of intellectual property rights, the Parliament of Azerbaijan approved some laws, and ratified international agreements.
The following laws are the primary normative acts regulating IP rights:
- Law No. 504-IQ “On Trademarks and Geographical Indications”, adopted on 12th June 1998
- Law No. 312-IQ “On Patents”, adopted on 25th July 1997
- Law No. 115-IQ “On Copyright and Related Rights”, adopted on 5th July 1996
- Law No. 337-IIQ “On Legal Protection of Topographies of Integrated Circuits”, adopted on 31st May 2002
- Law No. 365-IVQ “On Protection of Intellectual Property Rights and Combatting Piracy”, adopted on 22nd May 2012
- Law No. 460-IIQ “On Legal Protection of Azerbaijani Folklore Expressions”, adopted on 16th May 2003
- Law No. 755-IIQ “On Legal Protection of Compilations of Data”, adopted on 14th September 2004
- Law No. 197-IQ “On Selection Achievements”, adopted on 15th November 1996
In addition, below are the major laws that are designed to prevent intellectual property infringements:
- Criminal Code
- Civil Procedure Code
- Code on Administrative Offences
- Law “On approval of the Decision of the Rules on Customs Control of Transfer of Goods Protected by Intellectual Property Rights”
- Law “On Anti-Monopoly Activity”
- Law “On Unfair Competition”
The Law “On Trademarks and Geographical Indications” governs the relations arising out from the registration, legal protection and use of trademarks and geographical indications in Azerbaijan.
- Trademark – any sign or combination of signs which can be represented graphically and is capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaker from those of another undertaker
- Geographical indication – an indication which identifies a good as originating in the territory of a State or region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin
- Collective mark – any sign, or combination of signs, registered under the name of union, association, and any other union
- Transliteration – representation of letters of one alphabet with letters of another alphabet
Trademarks and geographical indications, which are not registered in Azerbaijan, but having force under the international treaties to which Azerbaijan is a party, have protection in accordance to the Law.
The procedure of trademark registration starts by filling an application for trademark registration. An application can be provided to the competent authority (AZPATENT) in any language, but at the same time it must be submitted in Azerbaijani language as well. An application must include: the request for trademark registration, information about the applicant, the sign the protection is requested for, a brief description of the sign, and the list of goods and services (Nice Classification). The period from the time of application to certification can vary from 3 to 8 months.
A foreign natural person or legal entity can submit an application for registration of trademark through a patent attorney. The list of patent attorneys can be found in the Register of Patent Attorneys, kept by the competent authority.
Trademark can also be registered in Azerbaijan through application to the International Bureau ("WIPO") indicating the Republic of Azerbaijan in the list of designated countries.
The Law “On Patents” regulates property relationships and related personal non-property relationships arising out of creation, legal protection, and use of inventions, utility models and industrial designs. Important concepts:
- Invention - technical solutions relating to a product or technique in any sphere
- Utility model - technical solutions relating to a facility
- Industrial design - the novel outward appearance of an article, art-constructive solution outward appearance of an article
A foreign natural person or legal entity that does not have its residence or seat in Azerbaijan has the same rights regarding the protection of its inventions as a domestic natural person and a legal entity, where such treatment derives from international treaties binding Azerbaijan.
Filing the application with the competent authority (AZPATENT) initiates the procedure for the protection of an invention. The application may be filed in a language other than Azerbaijani, but in that case the translation to Azerbaijani must be submitted as well. An application must include: drawings, schemes, information about the author, detailed description of invention. Foreign legal entities or natural persons shall, unless otherwise stipulated by international agreements, file the application through a registered patent attorney.
The application for invention or utility model shall relate to one invention or utility model only or to a group of inventions or utility models so linked as to satisfy the requirement of unity. An application shall contain the following:
- A request for the grant of the patent, stating the names of the author(s) and the legal entity or natural persons in whose name the grant of patent is sought, together with addresses of their places of residence or of business
- A description disclosing the subject matter of the invention or utility model sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out
- The claims shall define the subject matter of the invention or utility model and supported by the description
- Drawing and other material where necessary for the understanding of the subject matter of the application
- An abstract
The Law “On Copyright and related rights” governs the relations arisen in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan from the creation and use of scientific, literature and art works (copyright) and of performances, phonograms, programs of broadcasting or cable distribution organizations (related rights).
Copyright is extended to scientific, literary and artistic works that are the products of creative work, in disclosed or undisclosed and objective form, regardless of the purpose, the value and content, as well as, form of expression and method. The origin and exercise of the copyright shall not require either registration of the work or the documentation by any other means.
Both disclosed and undisclosed works to which the copyrights is referred may exist in the following objective forms:
- Written form (manuscript, typewritten text, musical score, etc.)
- Oral form (public recitation, public performance, etc.)
- Sound or visual recording (mechanical, magnetic, digital, optical, etc.)
- Descriptive form (drawing, sketch, painting, plan, industrial design, still picture from a cinematographic or television or video film, photograph, etc.)
- Volumetric – extensive form (sculpture, model, mock-up, structure, etc.)
- Any other form
Protection with copyright is applied not to ideas, processes, working methods, or mathematical concepts, but to the form of expression. The copyright in a work is independent of the ownership of the material object in which the work is expressed.
The following works are objects of copyright:
- Literary works (books, articles, lectures and speeches, including computer programs and other)
- Dramatic or dramatic-musical works and other works with a scenario
- Choreographic and mimed works
- Musical works with or without accompanying text
- Audio-visual works (cinematographic, television and video films, static projections, slide shows and other cinematographic and television productions)
- Works of painting and sculpture, graphic and design works, cartoon strips and other works of figurative art
- Works of applied art, hand carpets and stage design
- Works of architecture, urban planning and park and garden design
- Photographic works and works obtained by processes analogous to photography
- Geographical, geological and other maps, plans and sketches, and also three-dimensional works relating to geography, topography and other sciences
- Derived works (translations, adaptations, annotations, analyses, summaries, reviews, stage adaptations, arrangements and other transformations of scientific, literary and artistic works)
Derived works and composite works shall be protected by copyright whether or not the works on which they are based, or which they themselves include tele-radio broadcasts, catalogues, booklets, photo albums, tables of contents, multimedia products (works) and other works. Computer programs are protected as literary works. The protection of computer programs shall extend to all types of computer program, including operating systems, regardless of the language and form in which they are expressed, including the source code and the object code.
Validity term of copyright
Copyright arises from creation of work and shall have effect throughout the lifetime of the author and for 70 years after his death, except some cases mentioned in the Law “On Copyright and related rights”. The copyright for anonymous or pseudonymous work shall have effect for 70 years following the date of the lawful disclosure thereof. On the expiration of the term of the copyright for work, the work shall fall into the public domain.
The Criminal Code contains several provisions regarding violation of intellectual property rights. It proscribes illegal use, import, producing, export, placing in the market and some other actions regarding objects of intellectual property.
Protection of copyright and related rights
According to the Criminal Code, violation of copyright and related rights occurs in case of illegal use of copyright and related rights objects, meaning illegal publishing or distribution of another's scientific, literary, art or other work, publishing or distribution of such misappropriated work, as well as compulsion to co-authorship and as a result of these acts damage caused was in significant size. Punishment can range from a fine to imprisonment for a period for up to 2 years.
According to the Law “On Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and Fight against Piracy”, copies of the objects of copyright and related rights (audio-visual works, phonograms, videograms, computer programs, databases, books etc.) shall be marked with a control mark issued by the relevant executive agency for copyright issues. Deliberate destruction, falsification, illegal production, utilization and sale of control marks is prohibited.
Seizure and confiscation of infringing or counterfeit goods from the market
As of July 2018, the State Service for Antimonopoly Policy and Consumer Rights Protection is in charge for seizure and confiscation of infringing goods from market. The right holder could send a letter to the Antimonopoly Service with a request to the check the market for presence of counterfeit or infringing goods. If such goods were identified, the Antimonopoly Service could take measures (seizure and confiscation of infringing or counterfeit goods).
Protection of patents
According to the Criminal Code, violation of an invention and patent rights occurs in case of the illegal use of an invention or efficiency proposal, disclosure without the will of the author of essence of invention and efficiency proposal before official publication of data on them, assignment of authorship, compulsion to co-authorship and as a result of these acts the damage caused was in significant size. Punishment can range from a fine to imprisonment for a period for up to 2 years.
Protection of trademarks
The use of a trademark without consent of its owner is deemed to be an infringement of right to the protected trademark. The use of a trademark, containing geographical indication on wines and spirits without consent of its owner, is considered an infringement of right for the registered trademark.
Sanctions for infringement of rights: Any person, who unlawfully uses a trademark or a geographical indication, on the demand of the right owner, either fully or in part, shall discontinue the unlawful use and recompense the damage caused to its owner. The goods illegally provided with trademarks, geographical indications or signs which are similar with them to the extent of confuse are counterfeit.
When reviewing arguments in the civil court examination order, provided that the legal rights of third parties has not been damaged, the court can accord the removal from the commercial circulation or later destruction of the following goods without paying compensation, regardless of the danger level and scale of the violation of the law:
- Goods that are object of violation of rights
- Materials and equipment widely used in the production of counterfeit goods with the purpose of preventing rights violation that is feasible in the future
The rights holder may request in the legal form the payment of compensation in return for the damage and expenses caused by the person that produces counterfeit goods (as well as label or signs) or the person that knows or should know that s/she uses these goods (as well as label or signs).
When goods that are illegally supplied with trademarks and geographical indications are brought into Azerbaijan (except transit goods or goods that are obtained from free sale by the rights holder or with his/her permission in another country’s territory), the release of such goods for free circulation may be delayed for 10 business days by customs authorities when there is a request of the right holder.
The clearance of counterfeit products from customs territory, which are intended for exportation, shall be stopped with the decision of the customs authorities. The rights owner shall have the right to file with the State Customs Committee a substantiated request to detain goods unlawfully bearing his sign while in transit across the border of Azerbaijan and to disclose the name of the exporter, importer, transporter and the quantity of infringing goods.
Executive authorities and their competences
Responsibilities for different spheres of intellectual property rights in Azerbaijan were divided between the State Copyright Agency and the Standardization, Metrology and Patent Committee.
On April 20, 2018, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed an Order “On measures to improve management in the field of consumer market surveillance, standardization, metrology and protection of intellectual property rights”. This Order dissolves the Standardization, Metrology and Patent Committee and creates the Intellectual Property Agency through the reorganization of the Copyright Agency and the Patent and Trademarks Office. According to that Order, the responsibilities of the Committee regarding the protection of industrial property objects will be transferred to the Intellectual Property Agency. The Charter of this Agency is still under preparation as of end of July 2018.
Stakeholders in the area of intellectual property include authors of copyright works, inventors, trademark owners, civil society, business associates (both local and foreign) etc.
Relevant documents, data and resources
Legislation (English language): www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/profile.jsp?code=az